Yep. I said that. And I guess let’s just jump in!
Quick review of facts. Chris Brown performed at the Grammys on Sunday night and also took a couple awards home. Three years ago he was slated to perform, as was his girlfriend Rihanna, but neither of them were in attendance because the night before he beat the fuck out of her. *I promised my friend Corey I would tone down my profanity, but that’s not going to happen here.
Everyone knows that, and it terrifies me how few people care. Or very quickly excuses are made. “He paid his dues, yes but you can’t deny his talent and that’s in the past, well we don’t really know what happened so it’s hard to judge.” I feel sick even typing that!
Let’s review. Paid his dues? He’s on probation for five years. He’s had to do some community service, and let’s not forget, he lost his marketing deal with Wrigley’s Doublemint gum.
What did he have to pay dues for to begin with? I think it would be inappropriate and exploitative to show the picture of Rihanna from that night but if you’d like you can google it and see. The police report is pretty graphic and really upsetting, but I think it’s important to go over this. He slammed her head against a window, and punched her repeatedly and she started bleeding.
‘“Brown looked at Robyn F. and stated, ‘I’m going to beat the sh- out of you when we get home! You wait and see!’
” The detective said “Robyn F.” then used her cell phone to call her personal assistant Jennifer Rosales, who did not answer.
“Robyn F. pretended to talk to her and stated, ‘I’m on my way home. Make sure the police are there when I get there.’ After Robyn F. faked the call, Brown looked at her and stated, ‘You just did the stupidest thing ever! Now I’m really going to kill you!’’
And then, you know, more and more punching until he had her in a head lock and she went unconscious.
The thing is, she could have died. When the police got there, she was in such bad shape that they didn’t wait for an ambulance to arrive they took her straight to the hospital. This is serious, and it isn’t okay.
So back to the excuses, what does it matter how talented a performer is, he beat the shit out of his girlfriend and has never taken real accountability for his actions. Two sides to every story? Nothing someone says or does excuses that kind of abuse. Nothing.
I was discussing this with a friend and he asked me what exactly I want done about this. Was he somehow supposed to be disqualified from winning? Should he have been formally banned from the event? No.
What makes me so upset is our culture that allows someone who nearly killed his significant other with no genuine repercussions or apology to be welcomed back to the musical community like a damn prodigal son. I see all the terrifying comments women are making on twitter and facebook and other venues and I think, “this is what rape culture looks like.” I suppose in this case it would be abuse culture? They are very similar though. In the US, domestic abuse, much like sexual assault is extremely pervasive and common, however this is obviously not something people talk about openly. In a culture where there is so much victim blaming, why would a woman make the brave move to come out and say she is a victim? A lot of people wrote off Chris Brown’s abuse because weeks later Rihanna was seen with him and reports came out that the Grammy incident wasn’t their first abusive interaction.
In discussions I’ve had with people and even students speaking out in class, a lot of people don’t seem to understand how cyclical domestic
violence is, how nuanced it is, how difficult it is to get out. It’s disgusting when people say that if they were in that situation they would definitely get out because you really have NO idea what the hell you would do. Moreover, statistics show that a woman is in the MOST danger right after she gets out of the abusive relationship. That is when she is most likely to get killed. If a woman is murdered in the US, she is most likely murdered by her significant other, 3 women are killed by their boyfriend or husband in the United States DAILY. The statistics
In addition to the sanctimonious assumptions and bouts of victim blaming, the fact that so many people make jokes about domestic violence and rape contribute to this abuse culture is disgusting. Supposedly even Chris Brown is using his past as a pick up line
to pick up chicks, something like “hey let’s hang out I promise I won’t beat you.” If you think that is funny, I want you to really think about why.
What really upsets me is that people make these jokes, blame the victim, and dismiss his actions because everyone deserves a second chance, and have no idea who they’re saying it to. What does this communicate to women who are victims of abuse? It’s your own fault, it isn’t a big deal, this is a topic ripe for humor, you have to deal with your physical and emotional scars in a veil of shame while your abuser could be out and reaping lots of success.
Another thing, Chris Brown had such a big opportunity to turn this into such a big teachable moment for men. He could have owned up to what happened and used his fame as a platform to really tackle a huge issue, but he didn’t.
The tweet to the left was removed promptly but obviously that doesn’t mean it was gone forever. It shows how immature he is and how little he’s grown. Really Chris Brown? You don’t like that some people dislike you because you almost killed your girlfriend and never even owned up to it? Are you serious?
Again, I want to reiterate that my biggest concern isn’t Chris Brown, but the culture we live in that makes all of this okay, that would make tons of women think it’s cool to want to be with someone even though he’s abusive, that makes light such a serious issue of domestic violence, that pushes victims and survivors even further into the darkness.
How much does our culture value women when we look at this situation and can brush it off so easily?
On a general note, think before you speak. People don’t walk around wearing signs that reveal their secrets and struggles. But if you’ve ever participated in any form of victim blaming or made some joke about domestic violence, consider keeping your mouth shut because I promise you’ve said it in front of someone who has suffered from this, and you’ve become part of the problem.